A Real Education

by Dave Hanks

Our local livestock auction is held every Thursday at noon. This is not a very vital fact to me as I rarely attend. In fact, as a school teacher, I am not able to be away from school at that time. Any purchasing of animals for me has to be done by proxy, leaving me in a vulnerable position to say the least.

One such occasion required that the auction management buy me two heifers. They were to be put in a small pasture behind my home to utilize the grass. Well, “I was a stranger and they took me in!” I must have seemed to be a convenient “dump”. The two beasts that I arrived home with were real “winners”. One, a smallish Brahma, had a gigantic swelling on her belly.

The bigger of the two was wild. Now that’s an understatement! Upon release into my corral, she immediately jumped the fence and headed for the road. “Burning my lungs” in hot pursuit, I finally headed her off a half mile to the north. She then made a circle around a neighbor’s straw-stack and came at me again. Like a locomotive, she passed me on her way to the highway. Traffic came to a momentary halt as she crossed going north. A huge potato processing plant is situated on a narrow strip of land between the highway ( to the south ) and the Snake River ( to the north). I could hear men yelling and see them waving their arms as she went by. She disappeared out of sight, far to the west behind the factory, only to reappear a few minutes later.

Helpless and disgruntled I meekly stood as she “blew” by me again. “Where did she disappear to this time?” Standing on a little rise and looking at the river below, I noticed a head in the water. “It can’t be, the thing is swiming the river!” At this point I no longer cared. “If only I had a rifle, I would shoot it and let it drift!” For about twenty minutes I stood there mesmerized. Well, she finally reached the opposite bank, struggled out of the water, and disappeared into the marsh-sagebrush country on the far side. I have not seen her since.

Back home, hoping to salvage something from my purchases, only to be advised by the local veterinary to slaughter the remaining heifer. The swelling on her belly was a hernia that was past repair. The heifer was small, lean, and not a good carcass candidate. So I had her “boned out” and made into hamburger. She yielded sixty pounds of meat.

Purchase costs! Veterinary costs! Packing house costs! Sixty pounds of meat was the end result of my venture. “How much does a college semester of tuition cost?” Well, experiences age one and make one wiser. I know that I got a real education!

That sixty pounds of meat had cost me $ 715.00 !